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BILL HOLFORD MIGHTY DUCKS

By Published on .

Marketing a big league hockey team isn't a Mickey Mouse job. But for Bill Holford, it's a lot easier with Walt Disney on the roster.

Mr. Holford is VP-sales and marketing for the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Calif., which just completed its rookie season in the National Hockey League.

The expansion team was surprising on the ice-narrowly missing the playoffs-as well as off the ice.

To hear Mr. Holford tell it, the Ducks practically sell themselves. But someone had to turn the team and its Disney connection into the epitome of synergistic marketing.

The family appeal of Disney and the studio's "Mighty Ducks" movies was used to expand the team's fan base.

"The `Mighty Ducks' films were really family events, so it was a natural progression that we would want them to come," says Mr. Holford, 36. "And we have managed to bring a lot of families to the arena. That has helped the team and the sport."

Mr. Holford capitalized on the Disney connection to sell out the first five games of the season, offering trips to Disneyland and copies of "The Mighty Ducks" home video. For the entire season, attendance averaged an impressive 16,989 a game. And the last 25 home games were sellouts.

The movie/team synergies also created a national appeal and following, helped by the selling of team merchandise and fashions in Disney's more than 200 retail stores.

A key component in the Mighty Ducks marketing mix is the arena itself. Dubbed "The Taj Majal of NHL arenas," it boasts padded seats, lots of well-scrubbed marble and brass, and sightlines that make any seat in the house a good one.

Naturally, the arena is called The Pond.

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